Fun Facts and Secrets About Disney Imagineering


Orig Art
Original Art

  1. WED became WDI in 1986
  2. Marty Sklar is vice chairman of Walt Disney Imagineering
  3. Marty Sklar started with Disney as a college student just before Disneyland opened.
  4. "Mickey's 10 Commandments:" an outline, in plain terms, for making architecture more amenable to the people who experience buildings and places:
    1. Know your audience
    2. Wear your guest's shoes, that is, don't forget the human factor
    3. Organize the flow of people and ideas
    4. Create a 'wienie' (that was Walt Disney's somewhat inelegant term for what you might call a visual magnet)
    5. Comunicate with visual literacy
    6. Avoid overload -create turn-ons
    7. Tell one story at a time
    8. Avoid contradictions - maintain identity
    9. For every ounce of treatment provide a ton full of treat
    10. Keep it up
  5. Most of the Hidden Mickeys are designed by the "imagineers" of Disney. These are the people who plan the look and feel of buildings and rides in the park.
    REPORTED: Christopher De Voss 18 JAN 97
  6. MAPO is the old name for the construction arm/company of Imagineering. Before it was all folded into one. Walt Disney used the profits from Mary Poppins to start it up, hence MAPO. FYI, anything with MAPO on it is very collectable.
    REPORTED: Don Bertino 11 JUL 96
  7. WDI rents the buildings they need and as their needs increase they take over the next building in line. One of the buildings near MAPO is called the "Bowling Alley" and indeed was a bowling alley (you can go into the building and still see the one lane they saved for the employees use.) Another building is named "The Morgue" which was used before as a casket factory. So you see most of the buildings are identified at WDI for what they were. Kinda wierd.
    REPORTED: Don Saewert 29 JUN 97
  8. Three of the "Sky Buckets" that were removed from Disneyland are on the patio near the WDI cafeteria and are being used as "chairs".
    REPORTED: Don Saewert 29 JUN 97
    Two of them are now suspended from the ceiling in the NASA Space Experience gift shop.
    CONFIRMED: Ed Johnston 21 AUG 98
  9. One building off the main WDI complex is used to make mock-ups of future rides to see how they would work life size. About 90% of the things you see there will never be seen in the park itself. One mock-up was a kids ride like you see in front of the supermarket in the shape of a Star War's Air Scooter.
    REPORTED: Don Saewert 29 JUN 97
  10. At WDI they have a test log to be used at Splash Mountain in Japan. The log has the passengers sit side by side, two at a time, rather than right behind each other in a row. The reason? It is considered bad manners to sit somewhere where someone has placed their feet so the log is entered by the passenger with out stepping on the seat and then they sit down.
    REPORTED: Don Saewert 29 JUN 97
  11. One of the WDI buildings has a large scale model of Disneyland and Disney World sitting on a room size table. They have offices on the second floor which allow the workers to view the park models from the "air" as if they were in a airplane. Detail is everything at Disney.
    REPORTED: Don Saewert 29 JUN 97
  12. Beware of screaming sounds coming from Disney rides. Most, if not all, of them are part of the soundtrack, not live. Alien Encounter is a particularly good example of this, since not only are the screams part of the soundtrack, so are virtually all the smart remarks ("...my mother- in-law!"). I did some digging in the Disney literature and talked to some Disney folks when I noticed that the exact same person, doing the exact same scream in the exact same pitch, timber, and attack, could be heard in AE, Splash Mountain, and in the foyer of the Haunted Mansion. The screams don't repeat for every show, the soundtrack seems to rotate a selection of "background" noises like screams, but you will eventually hear the same lady scream the same scream on almost every Disney ride I've tried, and she always does it at the exact same moment.
    REPORTED: Larry Smith 02 JAN 97
    I have been working on a video project at Disneyland for a while, and have been on several rides with just two or three other people (from my crew). Upon riding Star Tours, we noticed several soft screams and remarks which came from the recording itself. It's a little obvious when you ride each attraction several times in a row. It's also obvious when you hear a girl scream and know for a fact that the only people in the room are male. And, yes, it happens on other rides as well!
    CONFIRMED: Scott M. Leonard 25 MAR 97
    CONFIRMED: meeko 17 JUL 98
    I'm writing in regards to the use of screaming soundtracks used at ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Everyone says that they know that these are used because of hearing the same person scream in the exact same volume, pitch, time etc. Has anyone ever thought to say they know it's a soundtrack because they sit in the very back row and hear screams coming from behind them. That's kind of a dead giveaway that there's a speaker attached to the headrest or somewhere behind you.
    CONFIRMED: Tim Jirik 11 AUG 00
  13. Disney mist effects are made by taking a fluid (Glycoral, water, etc.) heat it, and it vaporizes, add some smell to it and viola, fog!
    REPORTED: Lazer 26 OCT 95
    Another mist effect is made by simply atomized water vapor.
    UPDATE: Sam 27 OCT 95
    The fluid (Glycoral, water) is commercially known as "Roscoe." I have seen Roscoe, fine nozzle misting (just well-misted water vapor) and dry Ice in water (heavier than air, so it sinks and hugs the ground) effects used.
    UPDATE: Eric Griswold 30 OCT 95
    The fog at the bottom of the Splash Mountain drop is made of water droplets that would fit on the edge of a piece of paper with room to spare. The water is kept very pure so that nothing clogs up the fog nozzles.
    UPDATE: Bill Nye, The Science Guy
    Rosco is a prominent theatrical supply company. I've never heard their name used as a synonym for "fog juice" (which is what we always called it), but their gels (colored filters for stage lighting) are called Roscolux and Roscolene and it wouldn't surprise me if they did make fog juice under some name like "Roscofog".
    UPDATE: Bob Funchess 02 JAN 97
    The fog in the graveyard scene of the Haunted Mansion is not water-based. Both sides of the track through the graveyard have a floor-to-ceiling "scrim" a fabric which is a see-through or opaque depending on the lighting. The fog is projected on the scrim and helps obscure the animation equipment. Like Rosco and other effects, this is a standard theatrical device.
    UPDATE: Alastair Dallas 12 JAN 97
    Scrims (the thin cloth used in theatre, it can be obaque or translucent depending on the lighting) are used in the Haunted Mansion alot (it's the big secret behind the lowering ceiling room, take along a camera flash to see for yourself). Also, Roscoe does make smoke machine fluid, we have a bottle in our theatre's shop.
    CONFIRMED: TxThornton 13 JUL 99
  14. How are false rocks made? What happens is that you start with a picture of what you want it to look like. Then you decide how to make a "frame" that will support some major parts of the rock. You build this frame out of heavy wire, rebar, or whatever else that seems to be appropriate. Sometimes the frames are welded, other times just wired together. Then you cover the whole thing with a heavy mesh wire, the same kind of "lath" wire used on the outside of a stucco house. You push and poke at this wire until you have the rock shape you want. Then you plaster it, just like a house! When it dries, you paint it.
    REPORTED: Loren Wilton 22 JAN 96
    The rocks in Walt Disney World are also made by this method:
    1. Disney Imagineers finds a real rock they want to replicate
    2. They paint 4 to 5 layers of liquid latex onto the rock, then apply a layer of medical gauze, then paint another few layers of liquid latex on.
    3. The latex dries into a rubbery substance, strengthened by the gauze. This "mold" is taken to the park.
    4. The wire mesh method is used to get the basic shape for a new rock.
    5. The rubber mold is filled with cement and allowed to thicken. it is then pressed up against the wire mesh and dries. The rubber can be pressed into any shape needed, while retaining the texture of the rock. It can be used again after it is peeled off.

    UPDATE: Charlie Pearson 07 APR 96
    The "scenic" parts of the park (ie rocks, wooden signs, trees) that aren't real are most likely an epoxy resin, my old Technical Director works for a Scenic design company that has done alot of theme park designs. (like the Mr. Freeze ride for Six Flags Over Texas, not the ride itself, just the building) His shop showed us many examples of wooden signs, stone, trees, large mayan stone head...etc. that they created for the parks.
    CONFIRMED: TxThornton 13 JUL 99
  15. The burning pillars in Pirates of the Caribbbean, that can be seen in the last scene or the "jail" scene are created with lighting from inside the tubes shining up on tinfoil.
    REPORTED: Kenneth Klingensmith 21 JAN 97
  16. Disney holds more firework manufacture and launch patents than than any other organization. Check our patent list for some of them. Or see : US05627338, US05739462, US05526750, 5440990 and US05339741
    REPORTED: Daron Myrick 27 MAY 97
  17. Disney launches some of its larger fireworks through an airlaunch cannon and the fireworks are detonated by a remote control module inside the fireworks themselves. According to early and mid 1980's federal law, this would be illegal but the laws were changed in the late 1980's so computers and remote control could play a part in fireworks displays.
    REPORTED: Daron Myrick 27 MAY 97
  18. Larger fireworks are not the only thing airlaunched at Disney, many pyro fountains and mine simulations are airlaunched too but instead of using spherical shells, capped cylindrical shells looking like artillary shells are used.
    REPORTED: Daron Myrick 27 MAY 97
  19. Disney doesn't make all its own fireworks. Disney, every year or so, requests pyrotechnic demonstrations from pyrotechnic companies across the USA and picks the best fireworks from those demonstrations. Some of these demonstrations for Disney are done in a private, secluded field near Azle, Texas where a small company in that town generates most pro fireworks which are shot in Texas shows.
    REPORTED: Daron Myrick 27 MAY 97
  20. Disney holds more laser imaging patents than any other orginization. Check our patent list for some of them.
    REPORTED: Daron Myrick 27 MAY 97
  21. The galvanometers used in the laser "writing"/imaging systems at Disney, are the fastest electromechanical devices ever made.
    REPORTED: Daron Myrick 27 MAY 97


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